Monday, April 20, 2009

Snails To Be Released In Lake Experiment

Apple Snail Release In Lake Okeechobee

OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- Scientists from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will tag and release approximately 1,600 apple snails in an experiment designed to study reestablishing the significant species in Lake Okeechobee. Apple snails are an important food source for endangered snail kites, baby alligators and other wildlife. The snail release supports the District�s Everglades and ecosystem restoration efforts.

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute will deliver the snails, hatched from eggs collected in Lake Kissimmee in 2008, to a District science lab in West Palm Beach on April 22. The noted Fort Pierce institute has been a longtime SFWMD partner in researching strategies and utilizing aquaculture to replenish the species in the wild, especially to benefit the endangered snail kite.

Scientists at the lab will use a special glue to attach plastic tags to the mollusk shells in an assembly-line fashion. The next day Thursday April 23, SFWMD scientists plan to release the snails in a lakeside marsh near Jaycee Park in Okeechobee.

Researchers will return to the release site every two to three days to collect data, and they expect to have significant information on survival rates and other key indicators in about a month. The data collected will aid the District and its partners in restoring and protecting the Everglades and its wildlife.

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